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Is there a 3.8 percent house sale tax in the health-care legislation?

dennis-norman-st-louis-realtor-In the past few months I have received dozens of emails being forwarded around the internet warning of a new “3.8 percent real estate tax” or “tax on home sale” coming as a result of Obamacare. Given there seem to be many misconceptions out there about this topic I decided to address it this morning. For starters, there is not a 3.8 percent house sale tax in the health care legislation per se. There is, however, a 3.8 percent on unearned income for high-income individuals and couples that could end up being applied to the sale of one’s home. How it works:

For you to be subject to the 3.8 percent tax at all, you must have an adjusted gross income above $200,000 if you are an individual and above $250,000 if you are a couple filing a joint return. Then, the income that will be subject to this tax will be unearned income, which does include interest income, net income from rental property, interest, dividends and capital gains and then only the the extent that the gain puts you above the income limits. For example, if you are filing as a couple and your income is $350,000 and that includes $20,000 in unearned income that would be subject to the tax, only t he $20,000 would be subject to the 3.8 percent tax, not everything above $250,000. Or, in another example, if your income was $260,000 and that included $100,000 in unearned income only $10,000 would be subject to the tax as it calls for the lesser of the unearned income, or the amount of income above the limit, to be taxed.

So how about my house sale, will it get taxed in any way?

For most people, no. For some yes, but then probably not a lot. If you sell your primary residence you are currently allowed $250,000 tax-free gain on your primary residence ($500,000 for a married couple) so the sale of your primary residence would NOT be subject to this tax even if you are are a “high income” individual unless you exceed the allowed amount of tax-free gain on the sale of your home, which most people do not. If you happen to be fortunate enough to make more than a $250,000 ($500,000 for a couple) profit on the sale of your home AND your taxable income is above $200,000 ($250,000 for a couple) then you WOULD be subject to the 3.8 percent tax but only on the gain above the allowed amount and then only to the extent it puts your income above the income limits. Here are a couple of examples:

  • A couple with $250,000 taxable income (before the sale of their primary residence) sells a home for $750,000 that they had paid $250,000 for years ago realizing a profit of$ 500,000. They would NOT be subject to the 3.8 percent tax as their gain did not exceed the allowable tax-free gain from a sale.
  • A couple with $350,000 taxable income (before the sale of their primary residence) sells a home for $750,000 that they had paid $250,000 for years ago realizing a profit of$ 500,000. They would NOT be subject to the 3.8 percent tax as their gain did not exceed the allowable tax-free gain from a sale.
  • A couple with $150,000 taxable income (before the sale of their primary residence) sells a home for $750,000 that they had paid $150,000 for years ago realizing a profit of $600,000. They would NOT be subject to the 3.8 percent tax as their gain of $100,000, when added to their taxable income did not put them over the $250,000 threshold in taxable income to make them subject to the 3.8 percent tax.
  • A couple with $150,000 taxable income (before the sale of their primary residence) sells a home for $750,000 that they had paid $250,000 for years ago realizing a profit of $600,000. They WOULD be subject to the 3.8 percent tax as their gain of $100,000, when added to their taxable income put them over the $250,000 threshold in taxable income therefore making “the lessor of” the amount of the gain, or the amount over $250,000 (in this case both numbers are the same) taxable.

I hope this helps clear up the confusion. If it has been helpful I would appreciate it if you would click the “Like” button for me. 🙂

Disclaimers – I’m not an attorney nor CPA, this is NOT legal advice NOR tax advice. This is simply my interpretation of what I have read about the legislation and based upon my understanding of it. Do NOT base any financial decisions on what is contained herein but seek out qualified and competent professionals to advise you. This article should, however, give you the background on the topic to enable you to ask relevant and important questions.

 

 

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